In one of an apparently endless series of fawning, softball interviews from the mainstream media (just once I'd like to see Sharif El-Gamal get interviewed the way Pamela Geller does or I do on a routine basis), thug Ground Zero mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal actually has the gall to complain about the media treatment he has gotten from some quarters, and claims that the Ground Zero mosque is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero.
There's just one problem with that very common claim: it contradicts explicit statements made by Daisy Khan, a leader of the Ground Zero mosque initiative and wife of the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. I was present at a lower Manhattan Community Board meeting where Daisy Khan said, "There are 200 mosques in New York. What's the problem with another?"
Now Daisy Khan herself also denies that it's a mosque, which shows you what kind of honest brokers we're dealing with here.
El-Gamal also contradicts Rauf himself. In a New York Times article (now scrubbed of these statements about the mosque, interestingly enough) Rauf seems to think that the mosque's location near Ground Zero is very important:
"New York is the capital of the world, and this location close to 9/11 is iconic," said the 61-year-old cleric, who is known for being a longtime critic of radical Islam. Being in a building "where a piece of the wreckage fell," he added, "sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11 ... We want to push back against the extremists."
"The Closing: Sharif El-Gamal," by Candace Taylor in The Real Deal, October 1 (thanks to Joan):
What has been the most upsetting thing for you about the response to the project?
There has been a deception by the forces of evil -- I'll just call it that -- saying that this is the "ground zero mosque." One, it's not a mosque. Two, it's not at ground zero. There was a narrative that was built in to provoke and sensationalize a topic that should have not gotten the attention that it got.
Which publications have been the most fair to you?
The New York Times has been pretty good to us. MSNBC, Keith Olbermann, Anderson Cooper, CNN has been pretty fair. Fox has just the most bizarre agenda in the world. The New York Post and the Daily News are just tabloids who will write anything to get a paper sold.
Would you like to set the record straight on anything?
This is going to be a community center. It's going to serve the needs of Lower Manhattan. Today, Lower Manhattan has mushroomed into a residential neighborhood -- there are over 50,000 residents. I saw this as an opportunity to build a center to serve the Muslim community that needs a prayer space, but also at the same time to build a world-class community center like the Jewish Community Center or the 92nd Street Y, with robust programming and phenomenal athletic and recreational facilities. ... There's such an ignorance and misperception of what Islam means. And I hope that this project will start educating people about my faith system and my beliefs.
I think it already has.